New leader aims to revive Grey Power
Nelson Grey Power's newly elected president Neville Male says he wants to revitalise the once strong lobby group so it can do the job it was meant to.
Mr Male was voted in with 88 votes to 51 for his only rival, Alan Turley, at a special general meeting held in Stoke yesterday to elect a new governing regime.
Nelson city councillor Eric Davy was named vice-president after he stood for the position unopposed.
The quorum of the Nelson chapter of the Grey Power lobby group, which represents the concerns and interests of the over-50s age group, was wiped out recently by the resignation of five members of the executive committee, plus immediate past president Gordon Currie.
Nelson Grey Power technically became an unconstitutional incorporated society and the meeting was called to elect new officers.
Mr Male, who had been a Grey Power member for six years, said he was surprised to learn a year ago there was no strategic plan for the Nelson group, or any way to measure its objectives.
"What concerns me is the people knocking Nelson Grey Power. It's terrible to hear that about an organisation that's here for the good of the people."
The Nelson chapter of the national organisation was considered one of the strongest in the country, despite membership having dropped in recent years from 14,000 to 8600.
Meeting chairman Pat Heaphy said the size of yesterday's turnout - around 150 people - indicated the strength of feeling over Grey Power's future.
Mr Male said the numbers who signed up to Grey Power yesterday "broke daily records".
He planned to make changes that would create better deals for members through the handbook, which offered discounts on goods and services to members, but had not kept pace with change in the commercial world. He also wanted to promote closer links with older persons' organisations and establish a forum to bring one voice on issues affecting this sector.
Mr Male said he also wanted Nelson Grey Power to work better with local government.
"We need to take a more positive stance. We want it to be something that can put something back into the community."
Mr Turley, a former city councillor, said Nelson Grey Power was not in trouble and blamed "negative publicity in the local press" for suggesting it was.
"Bagging our organisation and individuals in it is counter-productive," said Mr Turley, who was nominated to stand for president by Mr Currie.
Mr Turley said a lot had been mentioned about the drop in Grey Power membership, and while it was true and it was cause for concern, there was no need to panic.
His pitch for voter support yesterday included a call for Nelson Grey Power to involve itself better in local government because the region's two councils "appeared to be controlled by staff" and not the elected representatives.
Mr Turley said there was also a need to put pressure on medical services provided by the district health board, which appeared to have an excess of management over clinical and nursing services.
National Grey Power president Roy Reid, who attended yesterday's meeting, quelled growing concern among Nelson members that there was a plan to break away from the federation.
He said plans were under way to address the fall-off in membership including setting up a committee to carry out a modernisation plan.
Nelson Grey Power officers elected yesterday will run the organisation until its annual meeting next June, when another election will take place. They are president Neville Male, vice-president Eric Davy and the executive committee of Errol Millar, Kevin Gardener, George Truman, Pamela Coltman, Pauline Daly, David Page and Win Cozens.
The Nelson Mail